Scottish Gemmological association

Lauriston Castle Outing

We had a very enjoyable afternoon out at Lauriston Castle.  Our guide Mike did an excellent job of showing us the interiors and telling the history, not only of the castle itself, but also of some of the memorable owners.  Everywhere we turned, there was something else to see- another visit might be called for!

Some photos to whet your appetite:


SGA award to BCU Gemmology and Jewellery Studies Degree graduating Student

On the the 13th of June, Birmingham City University hosted an Industry Evening and also made awards to individual students. Within the Jewellery Department, an award was presented to the graduating Gemmology and Jewellery Studies Degree student with the highest marks, Delyth du Plooy.

The prize, a place to attend the 2018 Scottish Gemmological Association Conference, was donated by the SGA. Alistir Tait, our Chairman, attended the event and seems to have enjoyed himself!


2018 Conference

Our next Conference will be from the 4th to the 6th of May

and will be held at the Westerwood Hotel at Dullatur near Cumbernauld (a bit closer to Glasgow than Edinburgh!), from the 4th to the 6th of May. Transport links from Glasgow or Edinburgh are good. Detailed information will be available on our website from November and booking will open mid-December.


2017 Conference Photos

There are a selection of photos now available to view, just click here -


Upcoming Event and Meetings

On the 2nd of July, we will be having an outing to Lauriston Castle with a private tour at 3p.m.  There will be a limited number of places available.  More details -


Our AGM will be held on the 9th of August, at the Eric Liddell Centre, starting at 7p.m.  and will be followed by a presentation by Carmen Garcia-Carballido on her recent trip to Australia.  More details -


On the 30th of August we will have a Workshop with Andrew Fellows of Birmingham City University.

"So you think you know your diamonds from your cubic zirconias and synthetic moissanites?  From glass through to bismuth germinate, there are far more diamond simulants both on the market today and historically than many people realise.  With a chance to see a range of these natural and synthetic stones up close, this evening looks at the timeline for these simulants, and offers advice on testing procedures, and how to differentiate them from true diamonds"

More details will follow shortly.


GEM-A trip to Sri-Lanka, October 2017

If you are looking for a gemmological holiday with like minded people this autumn, this Gem-A trip to Sri-Lanka might be of interest.  More info -



GemSet Competition 2017

This year's 1st Prize was awarded to Monika Nemanyte of Glasgow City College,  for her hand made mixed metal, enamelled and gemset pendant.

  To see the full list of those who received awards and photos of their submissions, please click here -


Happy Birthday Alan!

On Wednesday 22nd March we had an early surprise celebration of our President Alan Hodgkinson's 80th Birthday.  Cake and fizz enjoyed by all who were there -

Congratulations Alan!


OUR Most recent MEETINg

On Wednesday, 22nd March, we had Godfrey Fitton talking on The Natural History of Blue John.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable presentation and we are hoping to follow it up with a summer outing to Lauriston Castle.  Details will follow shortly.  Meantime, Godfrey has generously allowed us access to the Powerpoint presentation which accompanied his talk.

  More -


previous meeting, Held on 22nd February

At our most recent meeting Alan Hodgkinson was our speaker for the evening and gave us the benefit of his observations and insights from this year's Tucson Show.  As always his presentation was full of detail, accompanied with interesting anecdotes and, as ever, made those who weren't in Tucson this year wish they had been!

Alan also returned with The Hanneman Trophy, awarded for Contributions to the Literature of Gemology.  Alan said he was honoured that the name Hodgkinson would be following in the footsteps of previous recipients including:  Anderson, Webster, Liddicoate, Sinkankas, Pough, Arern, Bruton, Gubelin, Nassau and Koivula.

Our congratulations to Alan!


alan h with Hannerman trophy1.jpg




Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May

If you have registered for our Conference you should by now have received and paid your invoice.   The Early Bird option is now finished and further bookings will be charged at the slightly high rate.

The Stirling Court Hotel report that our allocation of rooms are filling up. So, if you have not yet been in touch with them to discuss your requirements and to pay, then sooner rather than later might be wise.


Burma Trip

As many will be aware, earlier this year several of our more intrepid members undertook a Gemmological Trip to Myanmar, or Burma as we often still call it.

Patricia Campion has written, and very generously allowed us to publish, an account of their travels and discoveries.  To read, please click here -  and some of her images are below.

For an additional photo gallery of images from this trip, please click here -



Stuart Robertson-Cigdem Lule Student Sponsorship 2017

This year's award has been made to Holly Mowle.

After a childhood fascinated by gemstones, Holly went on to study jewellery and metalsmithing at Robert Gordon's University in Aberdeen.  After that, she continued to pursue the unique stories of jewels and gems both personally and professionally, completing postgraduate study at the University of St Andrews and employment there at the Museum Collections Unit.
Recently Holly was thrilled to be approached by Gem-A’s “Gems and Jewellery” magazine to write a feature article exploring lapidary artist’s relationship with the internet, to appear later this year. 

We look forward to welcoming Holly to this year's Conference.


Poster Competition

World of Gems Conference V will be hosting a poster session for the first time. The session is sponsored by GIA and will create more opportunities for sharing information in a visually pleasing way. All industry members are welcome to submit and students in particular are encouraged to present a research subject in the session.

More info by following this link



We have sent out email reminders that our renewal Membership Fees are due.  Once again we are holding the annual full membership charge at £25 and the student fee at £10.  The 2017 Renewal Form can be found under the New Membership Application Form here - -

Payment can be made as follows, quoting your name as a reference:

Our preferred payment method is by Direct Banking to:  The Scottish Gemmological Association, A/c No: 00202367, Sort Code: 83 26 02

Payment can also be made by Credit Card / Debit Card using Paypal to

To pay by cheque, return the completed form along with your cheque to:- SGA Conference, c/o Alistir Tait,  116A Rose Street, Edinburgh. EH2 3JF.

To pay by bank transfer, or for further details, please e-mail






Idar-Oberstein cutting

On the 25th January 2017, we were delighted to have Deborah Mazza talking on Idar-Oberstein cutting.  As always, she showed great knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject.

 Deborah discussed gem carving as an art form and also considered the question of skill/craftsmanship vs talent.  Gem carving has been developed to a very high standard due to modern technology and particularly to the skill of Idar-Oberstein artists.

 We were treated to an excellent presentation, mainly concentrating on three of the Idar- Oberstein cutters she has in-depth knowledge of and regards highly.  To give a flavour of the content of her talk to those not able to attend, this link is to a video of Manfred Wild, one of the cutter she chose to discuss.

There were also some examples of Idar-Oberstein craftsmanship available to view and handle.



Our November meeting was a presentation from Sarah Steele of Ebor Jet Works in Whitby. 

Sarah's enthusiasm, knowledge and experience came shining through and we were treated to an evening packed full of information, images and examples of related (and not so related!), materials, both in rough form and as finished pieces.

Our thanks to Sarah for the time and energy she put into this presentation and we look forward to hearing about her next exploits.



Scottish Sapphires

Our October meeting was a highly enjoyable talk given by Ian Combe on Scottish Sapphires. The meeting was well attended, as was our meal afterwards, and we all greatly appreciated Ian's efforts on our behalf.  After recounting stories of his (and that of a few of our other members!) involvement with Scottish Sapphires we had the opportunity for a closer look at several cut stones, some rough and some finished jewellery.

 We do have a couple of photos and this PDF originally printed by The Times (we think!) in 1995.

This PDF of Ian's presentation gives an outline of what he covered for those who were unable to attend.



Jade Talk and Workshop.

On Wednesday 28th September, Andrew Fellows presented us with a workshop on Jade.  Andrew is well known within British Gemmology circles and is a regular attendee at our Conferences.  He is a professional gemmologist, diamond-grader and ODL Tuition Manager at Gem-A in London.

jade talk people1.JPG

After a short talk on the sources and different kinds of jade, we were able to handle and look closely at a selection of specimens from Andrew's personal collection.  Our sincere thanks to Andrew for making the trip north to talk to us and we look forward to his next visit!

Our 'after meeting' suppers are getting popular.  We had 16 attendees for our visit to Cafe Grande and there have been positive reports!

For those who were unable to attend the actual meeting, Andrew has generously given permission for us to include a pdf of the illustrations for his talk.  To view, click here -


2016 AGM

On Tuesday 13th September 2016 we held our AGM in the boardroom of Bonham's in Queen Street.  We would like to thank all who attended.  In addition, we were delighted to present Rachel Bailey of Bonham's with the Ness Trophy for her pass with distinction of the Gem A gemmology diploma. Subsequently, she has also passed the Gem A Diamond Grading Diploma with distinction.

Thanks were also offered to Rachel for the use of the room for the meeting.

Once the formal business was concluded, we were also lucky enough to have Ewen Taylor recounting his experiences of his trip to Idar-Oberstein and Ste. Marie aux Mines in June this year.  Our thanks to Ewan for this informative talk - now we all want to go!

Afterwards a group went out for a very enjoyable supper in a nearby restaurant.

Our Chairman's Report for the last year can be found here


Tom Herbst Lecture Review

Faceting : Managing your raw gem material

A lecture delivered to the Scottish Gemmological Association

on 17th May 2016

By day, Tom Herbst is an astrophysicist at the Max Plank Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. Of course, in reality astronomy is a ‘by night’ pursuit and Tom’s passion is star formation, the photometric phase curve of the rings of Saturn, mapping the surface of Titan and high angular resolution astronomy with projects such as the Linc Nirvana. This is a unique and ambitious binocular telescope project with two exceptional 8.4 meter dia. mirrors.

That might seem rather all-consuming but when this relaxed Canadian has time on his hands he has made himself one of the world’s leading amateur cutters of gemstones. I use the term amateur as a term of respect and admiration for an enthusiast who is not driven by monetary gain but by passion alone.

Tom had been invited to speak in Edinburgh on ‘Designing and Visualising Gemstones’, sponsored by the Edinburgh College of Art and the Italian Cultural Institute and he was kind enough to give a talk to the SGA on the following evening. Tom told us about the sources of rough gem material for faceting such as rock shops, online dealers and the bigger and smaller gem shows not to mention fossicking for your own at mines. He described his own methodology for selecting rough by shape clarity, colour and other characteristics and his system for cataloguing and storing material awaiting the faceting process. We particularly enjoyed his home improvised method of creating three dimensional images of rough and charting different cutting options against his image on his PC. For those who would like to learn more about faceting gemstones Tom is author of the gem cutters’ ‘bible’ - ‘Amateur Gem Faceting Volumes I & II.

We were pleased to welcome a number of guests to the lecture including members of the Scottish Mineral and Lapidary Club.

We thank Tom for giving us his valuable time whilst away from his his wife Inge, and their two teenage sons, Matthew and Timothy.



Postal Address

Please send all correspondence to:

The Scottish Gemmological Association

c/o Alistir Wood Tait

116A Rose Street



Email address